When the Cleveland State Theatre department asked me to come check out a preview of their production of Ubu Roi by Alfred Jerry, all I knew about the play was that I wasn’t entirely sure how to pronounce the name. I left with more questions, and I still wasn’t entirely sure how to pronounce its name, and I think the theatre department and Alfred Jerry would take this as a compliment.
As soon as they began rehearsing it was very apparent that this play was not like any other. Since this was a rehearsal the setting was very intimate, and boy, was I uncomfortable, and that’s not me speaking negatively! The directions the actors got were to try and make the audience as uncomfortable as possible. As the rehearsal went on I saw Jazz Hands, groping, 19th century insults, giant puppets, and seductive saxophone playing. Needless to say, it was something very special.
About 30 minutes into the rehearsal, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between this play and some of Shakespeare’s work such as Macbeth or Hamlet. After doing a little bit of research, I discovered that Alfred Jerry was indeed parodying Shakespeare, and he did this very well. If you’re a fan of Shakespeare this show is for you, and if you dreaded reading his plays in High School this show is definitely for you. When talking to lead actor, Bobby Coyne, he told me that there’s “a lot of made up words” in the show, and if that doesn’t remind you of Shakespeare I don’t know what will.
It takes a special kind of actor to perform in Ubu Roi. You could tell that they really weren’t concerned about what anyone thinks. They definitely weren’t phased at all by the visitors. “I have to completely let go. I have to let go of all self consciousness, I have to let go of all insecurities, because when It boils down I’m going to be making myself look extremely absurd.” This quote by actor Peter Sherman sums up the play and the attitude of the actors perfectly. I could definitely feel the energy in the room bouncing from actor to actor, and I think the audience will definitely be able to feel that energy on opening night.
See this show. Don’t just see it for how hard the cast is working, but see it for how crazy it is! Go to the show and get uncomfortable, laugh, and question everything. After all, that’s what the cast and crew want you to do. Get ready for bears, 19th century school yard insults, confusion, made up words, over the top acting, choreographed nonsense, and so much more.
When: November 5-15
Where:The Helen Rosenfeld Lewis Bialosky Lab Theatre (Playhouse Square)
Tickets: $5 / $10 – www.playhousesquare.org / 2162416000
Photos by: Giorgiana Lascu & Carissa Woytach